distro recommendation needed for a special case

Discussion in 'Other Distributions' started by Capoderra, Jun 12, 2014.

  1. Capoderra

    Capoderra New Member

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    I have an aging aunt that uses a netbook running Windows XP. I need a Linux distro recommendation based on the following criteria:
    -the distro needs to be rolling release and security updates need to be automatically installed
    -I need to be able to connect remotely to (control) her computer from another city in order to provide her with technical help
    -the distro needs to have a simple GUI, possibly one like XFCE since the slide-out menus would resemble something she is already familiar with (XP). I'm open to other DEs, however, if they are easy on the eyes or intuitive.
    -I'm most familiar with Debian (and its derivatives) and a little Arch Linux, but I'm an intermediate user at best.
    -The distro needs to have Portuguese as it's native language
    -I plan on buying a slightly used desktop computer so that I can get a large monitor and keyboard. Hopefully I can find something with Intel HD Graphics.
    -She can be taught how to do things, but she is clueless if left alone. She uses the computer for email and Skype and receiving/reviewing pictures from her large family in Brazil. That's it. I'm tired of my family members going over there and messing things up for her. They don't know Linux so they wouldn't be able to mess it up.


    That's about it. I want to be able to install it and "forget it". I want to be available for her in case she needs help, but I don't have the time to maintain the system on a week to week basis. I don't want to use Debian because it's not rolling release. I just started learning about Arch, and it seems to me that I could possibly install and "forget" it, but I worry about having to do security updates. and consequently worry that an update would break some things and I'd have to spend too much time trying to figure out what went wrong. If I have the wrong idea about Arch, please feel free to correct me. Also, I don't know how to control a computer remotely. If you could point me to some information, I don't mind doing the reading. I just need recommendations of what works the best.
  2. ryanvade

    ryanvade Administrator Staff Member Staff Writer

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    Best Answer
    I would not recommend a rolling release. Too many variables to take care of plus most (if not all) rolling releseases don't automatically apply security updates. From what your describing, I would recommend Lubuntu or Xubuntu or even Kubuntu. There should be a Portuguese version. But I know that you can make Portuguese the default language.

    As for remote login, there is SSH (or the better MOSH) and also tools like xrdp, and TightVNC for a graphical remote login.
  3. Capoderra

    Capoderra New Member

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    I would rather use Debian rather than Xubuntu because Debian is more stable. You're right there is a Portuguese version for Debian/Ubuntu. thank you for the recommendations for remote login. I will check those out.
  4. arochester

    arochester Active Member

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    I would agree with @ryanvade that a rolling release is not the way to go.

    If you decide on one of the *buntus as above you might go for one of the LTS (Long Term Support) versions because they last longer. With a "standard" issue you are looking at a new release every 6 months.

    Alternatively you could go for Debian through NetInstall. The issues of Debian last longer. Jessie is fairly solid now, although it is still not classed "Stable". Through NetInstall you can, similarly, get LXDE, Xface or KDE.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  5. Capoderra

    Capoderra New Member

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    I think I'd rather go with Debian for stability reasons. Also, I'd imagine it's less bloated than Ubuntu. I'm assuming that the net install is a more minimalistic version of debian so that would be even lighter. Thanks!
  6. Yesyesloud

    Yesyesloud Active Member

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    Manjaro is a very stable rolling release. I guess you can configure it to update everything automatically, including security, but I'm not sure. It's a desktop oriented distro favouring stability. I guess security won't likely be a big problem, seriously, specially if your aunt didn't experience security issues on windows xp...
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  7. Capoderra

    Capoderra New Member

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    @Yesyesloud you know that XP has reached EOL, right? I think that without a question it will be a security issue regardless of whether it had been before... anyway, I haven't tried Manjaro, but it seems like you are so uncertain about updates/security that I wouldn't even attempt researching this avenue.
  8. rstanley

    rstanley Member

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    I agree with you that Debian stable is the way to go. Just make sure that your /home is on a separate partition. Good luck
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  9. Capoderra

    Capoderra New Member

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    Why do you recommend having /home on a separate partition?
  10. Yesyesloud

    Yesyesloud Active Member

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    hmm... Let me think a little more... Yes, I am aware.

    I meant that Manjaro was and will be always safer than Windows, even if XP still had MS support.
  11. rstanley

    rstanley Member

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    If you want to install a new version of whatever Distro you choose, (Or a different Distro) you can reformat, and reinstall the other partition(s) but leave /home alone, then reuse the partition as /home, and not loose any data on the partition. You should have a backup of the data as a precaution.

    I have done this several times. It does save a lot of work!
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  12. Yesyesloud

    Yesyesloud Active Member

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    P.S.: Security is a broad subject. Let's say your aunt theoretically had few problems with XP's faulty safety. She will have less (most likely zero) problems in this sense with "living" Linux operating systems.

    Manjaro and Arch offer security updates, "indirectly" but reliably, yes. For God's sake, you can set them up to upgrade all user software and core packages. Younger kernel (among other stuff) + latest userland software = safer.

    Non-rolling distributions have to patch all their way through safety, when they actually do it.

    Manjaro gets security updates after Arch does, since its maintainers take their time to build a stable system before releasing packages. Yet, it almost always gets them faster than most non-rolling distros.

    But, hey, it's a free world. There's always an LTS dinosaur for the more paranoid who believe 'buntus are snappier at patching issues that will kind of rarely get exploited by non-linux intruders on a random pc. Downside: 'buntus keepers don't update their end-user program repositories as frequently as safety demands, and things get uglier in the LTS department.

    "Home hackers"(!!1!) tend to target operating systems that have gathered huge user bases. I pretty much believe Ubuntu users are on the weak side of Linux security in this major regard, considering not only the system itself, but the average individual who operates it. There's probably more malicious software available for it, too, packed a few clicks away from easy installation. And Canonical... Hmm... Software enterprises don't usually turn down government requests for backdoors. Take your pick.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014
  13. Capoderra

    Capoderra New Member

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    When I initially posted, I had the idea that a rolling release distro would only have to be installed once and never reinstalled AND that it would have the latest security updates pushed out before a stable distro such as Debian. However, I got recommendations for Debian, with the option of putting the /home on a separate partition to help with reinstalling further down the road. As a side note, I'm averse to the 'buntus for the reasons @Yesyesloud has pointed out. Anyway, I'm sort of confused about whether or not Arch and its derivatives are stable or not. I hear that upgrading breaks stuff every once in a while, but I also read that Arch is as stable as you make it. I won't install many packages (a mail reader and a web browser and an image viewer and remote login). What variables would I have to worry about, @ryanvade ? I'm not averse to Debian, however, my wife might get a job in another country which would prevent me from visiting my aunt for a future reinstall. Perhaps Manjaro as @Yesyesloud has pointed out would be a nice compromise.
  14. Yesyesloud

    Yesyesloud Active Member

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    Manjaro seldom breaks or just doesn't at all when foss drivers are loaded. Worst downside of rolling distros is managing proprietary firmware/drivers , but some of them do it better.

    Wifi will break more often on Arch when dependent on firmware, while it will probably never break on Manjaro regardless of dependencies. Proprietary video drivers have a bit more chances to stop working on both after system upgrades, but Manjaro also wins in this scenario: its maintainers have been really careful as to managing video - and other - drivers. They offer an exclusive tool and exclusive packages for these and other matters in order to keep up with stability.

    Anyway, having foss drivers installed ease things. I can't guarantee the system would never break under this circumstance, but I truly doubt Manjaro would nowadays.

    If you want more than solid... A rock-solid rolling distro, yes, there is one and only. Go for Slack-current, it simply doesn't let you down. It's actually a script that makes Slackware update to the latest release. Slackware in itself is not rolling, meaning you have to reinstall upon each (very sparsed) release. However, Slack-current will eliminate the need for reinstall, thus making Slackware "roll". The best of both worlds. Not the easiest thing to set up, also not that harshest. Load one (or more) package managers that handle dependencies and you'll be able to install everything you want on Slack. This solution is not popular, not very well documented, but works like a charm once properly set up.

    In case Slack-current seems too complicated, you can always dual boot manjaro and ubuntu/mint on her netbook. If Manjaro ever breaks, just tell her to pick the other OS on boot loader menu. Share the same home folder between them and you're fine.
  15. Capoderra

    Capoderra New Member

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    I've decided to go with debian, although @Yesyesloud 's suggest provided a lot of learning and food for thought. I've discovered that it is possible to reinstall Debian remotely. I found a "how to" of Install Debian Onto a Remote Linux System from underhanded.org. I've also gotten into ssh. I had a hard time practicing on Virtualbox because it took me time to figure out that I had to use "bridged adapter" for the networking settings of the VM. My next step is learning about X over ssh.

    Thank you @rstanley and @arochester for your tips.
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  16. Videodrome

    Videodrome Active Member

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    Interesting info. I'm just recently exploring Slackware and wasn't yet familiar with Slack-Current.
  17. Yesyesloud

    Yesyesloud Active Member

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    You can manage/reinstall (even install) most distributions remotely. Mainly, the remote system must be able to boot into Linux and establish an internet connection (broken network drivers can be a problem).

    Setting up a WAN host name on the other side helps a lot if you intend to log in to it often. Services like no-ip offer simple clients for you to keep a host name updated with the current IP address on a given computer, useful for dynamic IP.

    Debian is great, nice choice...
  18. dex

    dex New Member

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    Ok thanks.
  19. Yesyesloud

    Yesyesloud Active Member

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    Just revived the topic to say Slackel makes Slackware-current easy :rolleyes:

    So, yes... There is a stable rolling distro.

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